India to upgrade processed food quality, drive exports

November 26th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) The government is setting up a Rs.2.45-billion food processing laboratory and upgrading existing facilities in a bid to improve quality standards and boost exports of processed food products.The “world-class laboratory” would soon start functioning at Sonepat bordering Delhi, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay told the Economic Editors Conference Wednesday.

Processed food products exported from India have often had to be destroyed in importing countries for failing to meet prescribed quality standards.

“If packaged foods are not meeting standards abroad, there is every chance the goods will be dumped,” Sahay said, adding: “Our existing laboratories are being upgraded and will help us maintain quality standards.”

The government has declared 2008 as “Food Safety Year”.

The minister said keeping the potential of the food processing sector, a ‘Vision 2015′ has been drawn up that envisages increasing the level of processing of perishables from 6 percent to 20 percent, value addition from 20 percent to 35 percent, and share in global food trade from 1.5 percent to 3 percent.

Sahay said the food processing sector has attracted Rs.7.98 billion in foreign investments since 2004. “The food processing sector is one of the top 10 sectors attracting highest FDI (foreign direct investment) equity inflows”.

The government has now earmarked Rs.500 million to set up 30 mega food parks during the 11th five-year plan that ends 2012, Sahay said.

“We will set-up 10 such mega food parks by the end of next year,” he added.

Sahay said the food-processing sector, which employs 65 million people, is growing 12 percent annually.

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